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Thread: Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

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    Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

    Erwin Rommel

    Whereever you read a poll on the internet (in german or english) about Germany's greatest general of WW2, Rommel wins by a landslide.

    Rommel did indeed achieve marvellous victories for someone whose talents don't exceed the operational level and who doesn't understand strategy.

    Otherwise he would have understood that:
    - troops which could be supplied over a distance of 2.500 km from Tripoli to the Suez canal, would be too small to beat the Brits.

    - troops which could have achieved that task, couldn't have been supplied.

    (compare: van Creveld, Supplying War, S. 181- 201)

    ....................

    Rommel's sole task was to defend Tripoli. Despite numerical and logistical inferiority he defied the orders of the OKW (German High Command) and went all or nothing.

    His genius on the tactical scope enabled him to achieve grandiose victories which in part were related to british stupidity.
    The tank-rush, once established contact with enemy forces, immediate retreat, which resulted repeatedly in british armoured formations pursuing and getting butchered by the prepared 88mm-flak.

    Even if Rommel would have taken Egypt and maybe even the Middle East.
    What then?
    Oil? NO!!!! Having oil wells and transporting oil to Germany are two completely different issues.
    The Iraqi oil would have only been useful to supply the Africa Corps, nothing else.

    While Britain's supply base reached as far back as South Africa, Rommel could have never achieved a deciding victory.
    Instead he would have to defend a looooong frontier from Tripoli to Kuweit with the Brits being able to strike at any point at any time.

    --------------------------------

    Ironically he (the "best") would have needed the qualifications of Albert Kesselring (the most underrated) to judge the situation better and maybe hold establish a North-Italy like defence in North-Africa.

    He was brilliant as a divisional tank commander (numerous examples from Poland over France to NA), but nothing more.

    ---------------------------------------

    Reasons why he is overrated:

    1. German propaganda
    2. British propaganda (easiest way to explain failure is the overrating of the opponent)
    3. Simplifying of common people
    "We were never more free than under the German occupation!"

    - Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Erwin Rommel's Diary Explores the Reasons of Nazi Germany's Defeat in the Desert

    Why Britain won: by Erwin Rommel, commander of the Afrika Korps --- We had lost the decisive battle of the African campaign. It was decisive because our defeat had resulted in the loss of a large part of our infantry and motorised forces. The astonishing thing was that the authorities, German and Italian, looked for the fault not in the failure of supplies, not in our air inferiority... but in the command and troops. Looking back, I am conscious of only one mistake: that I did not circumvent the "victory or death" order 24 hours earlier. The first essential condition for any army to be able to stand in battle is parity ... in the air.
    Continued: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009...el-alamein-ww2

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    Erwin Rommel's Family Brands Forthcoming Film As 'lies'

    The family of Erwin Rommel the German wartime general has branded an forthcoming film about the famed soldier as "lies", claiming it portrays him as Nazi criminal.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...m-as-lies.html
    "Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society."

    ~Aristotle

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    They would probably prefer the Hollywood Stauffenberg image with Morgan Freeman in the leading role as the old field marshal..

    Field marshal Rommel was one of the greatest military minds that Europe has produced, a tactical genious. Unfortunately, like colonel Von Stauffenberg, he forfeited on
    his oath as a preussian officer.

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    Rommel wasn't a Prussian, rather he was from Wuerttemberg.

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    VIDEO: Field Marshal Erwin Rommel



    Film review, in color, of the life of an outstanding World War II military commander.

    Rommel is shown inspecting defense fortifications along the Atlantic coast, with his troops in North Africa, and with his family. With striking musical accompaniment.

    Field Marshal Erwin Rommel 15 November 1891 14 October 1944 The Desert Fox


    http://whiteresister.com/index.php/8...l-erwin-rommel

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    It's the 75th anniversary of Rommel's death on Monday (14th October).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drömmarnas Stig View Post
    Whereever you read a poll on the internet (in german or english) about Germany's greatest general of WW2, Rommel wins by a landslide.
    The mist is clearing up. Experts now view Hermann "no joy riding on the river Meuse" Balck as the best German general of WW2. The old guard panicked and worried about the blitzkrieg in the West but Balck never did. Right after the breakthrough at Sedan he told Guderian with a smirk on his face what Guderian had always told his officers, including then regimental commander Balck, during exercises for the invasion of France: "no joy riding on the Meuse". He would go on to greatly distinguish himself in battles against the Soviets later on.



    Hermann Balck

    Rommel did indeed achieve marvellous victories for someone whose talents don't exceed the operational level and who doesn't understand strategy.
    Yes, Rommel was a great divisional commander, but should never have commanded a corps or an army/army group. And there were dozens of generals in Das Heer who would've done just as good a job. He used his Ghost Division and later the Afrikakorps the same way he would've led his assault troopers in WW1. When Rommel punched a hole through the Little Maginot Line on the Franco-Belgian border the gap wasn't even a kilometer wide yet he moved his entire seventh panzer division through that space, with French soldiers still present in bunkers on either side. Quite impressive, but it reveals a lot about his unorthodox approach which is the result of his training as an infantry officer, he wasn't a panzer man at heart. And the Ghost Division was as much a ghost division to the Germans as it was to the French - the French had no idea were it was and neither did the Germans. Rommel actually got petrol from French petrol stations when his tanks needed fuel, he simply bought it locally! Bonus points for improvisation nonetheless.

    Otherwise he would have understood that:
    - troops which could be supplied over a distance of 2.500 km from Tripoli to the Suez canal, would be too small to beat the Brits.

    - troops which could have achieved that task, couldn't have been supplied.
    Not necessarily - it all depends on how fast Tobruk falls in the springtime of 1941, during the first siege of Tobruk. If it falls within days or weeks (like it eventually would during the second siege of Tobruk), there would've been little to prevent Rommel's small force to reach Cairo and the Suez Channel.

    There are three things to consider here: the transfer of supplies from Italy to North-African harbors, which was acceptable in spite of the historical losses - the capacity of the harbors in Libya and Egypt, which was limited - and the distance between the supply depots in Libya and the Afrikakorps, later Afrika army. It's the last factor which caused the most problems.

    Rommel's sole task was to defend Tripoli. Despite numerical and logistical inferiority he defied the orders of the OKW (German High Command) and went all or nothing.
    The OKW was not against offensive action, but its orders were lucid and pertinent: they wanted Rommel to wait with offensive undertakings until he had more troops available and, crucially, until the Brits had transferred the bulk of their forces out of Libya and Egypt to other theatres, notably Greece, which they were in the process of doing, hence why they never fully took Libya to begin with and the Italians got a breather. If Rommel had obeyed he would've met little resistance when his offensive began, he would've taken Tobruk and then steamrolled through the Middle East, simply due to a lack of a British presence there. Major mistake. Simply put: Rommel's greatest victories should never have happened, instead he could've scored a huge strategic victory far exceeding that of Gazala, which is viewed as his greatest victory.

    His genius on the tactical scope enabled him to achieve grandiose victories which in part were related to british stupidity.
    The tank-rush, once established contact with enemy forces, immediate retreat, which resulted repeatedly in british armoured formations pursuing and getting butchered by the prepared 88mm-flak.
    It took the Brits a long time indeed to figure out their tanks were being destroyed by German antitank guns rather than tanks. They blamed the German tanks for their losses. Even more curiously: the Brits had an anti-aircraft gun just as capable as the German 88 of their own, but they never used it in an anti-tank role. It makes little sense.

    Even if Rommel would have taken Egypt and maybe even the Middle East.
    What then?
    Oil? NO!!!! Having oil wells and transporting oil to Germany are two completely different issues.
    The Iraqi oil would have only been useful to supply the Africa Corps, nothing else.
    How so? The oil can move through Turkey to Germany, if necessary by construction new lines of communication. Germany winning WW2 by conquering the Middle East is one of my pet theories - it's all the more appealing because it's waging war the British way and hence giving them a taste of their own medicine: Britain historically fights and wins its wars against other European powers with operations in the periphery and relying on allies. And it has always worked.

    Also: the Brits Empire would've been unable to use the Suez Channel, probably for the duration of the war if the Germans decide to blow it up. The Brits were not using the Suez channel for anything other than military transports and naval movements during WW2, but it would've been a big blow to all British forces still stuck in the Med. Cyprus and Malta would've been easy pickings after the Suez channel is taken.

    While Britain's supply base reached as far back as South Africa, Rommel could have never achieved a deciding victory.
    Instead he would have to defend a looooong frontier from Tripoli to Kuweit with the Brits being able to strike at any point at any time.
    It only looks that way on a map. In the same way Russia or China look vulnerable on a map - but these countries are de facto islands, Russia can only be invaded from the West and China only from the East. In reality there would've been very few locations to put a few 100.000 allied soldiers ashore and then supply them. I say: let them land anywhere they please. They'll be stuck in the middle of nowhere without a harbor and airfields! And a hostile native population is awaiting them. It's irrelevant that they land somewhere between Kuweit and Tripoli. The Germans could've gathered their forces and concentrated them in that place where they are needed - like at Anzio in Italy.

    Ironically he (the "best") would have needed the qualifications of Albert Kesselring (the most underrated) to judge the situation better and maybe hold establish a North-Italy like defence in North-Africa.
    Maybe. Kesselring was right about the defense of Italy. If it had been up to Rommel, the Germans would've only defended Lombardy - and there's something to say for that if the allies had been operationally daring - but then Germany would've had the fight that fight they fought in 1945 in 1943. And the allies, that's to say the Brits, not the Americans, were as not daring or agressive as far as operations go. The Brits prefered slow and steady over the more direct operations Germans and Americans favored. And the Brits usually won these military disputes between the allies. Landing troops to the north of Rome and directly threaten Lombardy was not something the allies were ever going to do.

    He was brilliant as a divisional tank commander (numerous examples from Poland over France to NA), but nothing more.
    Yes, that's what he was.
    “As brothers and sisters we knew instinctively that if we were going to stand in darkness, best we stand in a darkness we had made ourselves.” - Douglas Coupland

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    This will always be the stuff of (endless) debates but if Rommel was promoted to the rank of fieldmarshal then he obviously had some qualities that justified this position.

    Pondering strategy in 2019 is interesting but futile. There may have been alternatives - there always are! - but the OKW Operations Staff would have had all the facts to hand and obviously implemented the best options available to them at that time.

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    Rommel's lack of staff training meant he was unqualified by definition. Sure, he had some qualities in the position of fieldmarschall too and he would've achieved far more during the Battle of Normandy had he been given free reign. But the Germans tended to promote men of action like Rommel to positions which they were ill suited and not educated for - because of the national socialist ideology. Huge losses didn't help either.

    Quote Originally Posted by SaxonPagan
    The OKW Operations Staff would have had all the facts to hand and obviously implemented the best options available to them at that time.
    What makes you think that? Does the overall German war strategy strike you as sound? They did what seemed best at the time, but that was not necessarily what was best. The supreme command made mistakes too - Fall Blau is good example of this. The axis of advance was wrong. The Germans marched directly on the Caucasus while they could've moved to Astrakhan and the Caspian sea, thereby cutting off the Caucasus from the rest of the USSR - then the Caucasus would've fallen too eventually and lots of prisoners could've been taken. That was the smarter move and not harder than directly conquering the Caucasus, on the contrary. But what about Stalingrad then? In this scenario the city is a mere footnote in history, Stalingrad was undefended during the crucial first weeks of Fall Blau - yet the Germans and especially Hoth wasted all their time on the Don, and with movements southwards.

    Another good example is the weak flanks protecting the Sixth army in Stalingrad right before the Soviet offensive which would encircle the city: for the Germans, the Romanians and Italians et all were to blame for the disaster at Stalingrad, and certainly they had been defeated, the breakthrough came in their sectors but the OKW knew these were troops lacking in modern equipment and unable to halt armored offensives andbdestined to succumb to a sustained assault - and yet they failed to take the necessary precautions. The German allies actually did well on the first day of "Operation Uranus" and kept the Russians at bay, but the second day they were overwhelmed. That's not the fault of the Italians or the Hungarians, they're not morally responsible for failing a task they could never succeed at. Of course the OKW was working with a finite amount of resources: they couldn't simply build up a big reserve force everywhere along the Eastern Front - yet their failure to anticipate Uranus meant the Romanians, Hungarians and Italians were pretty much on their own.

    The OKW only had some facts at hand, not all, that's inherent to the fog of war. For example, German intelligence work on the Eastern Front was very weak - not because of incompetence, however. But that was the main front for the Germans from 41 to 44.
    “As brothers and sisters we knew instinctively that if we were going to stand in darkness, best we stand in a darkness we had made ourselves.” - Douglas Coupland

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